Winter in a northern climate needs flowering and fragrant houseplants. There is nothing finer than coming into the office and smelling my Aunt Rosemary’s hand-me-down jasmine. The smell is just amazing- like sunbaked, perfumed earth. I keep a large pot of jasmine in my office where I can enjoy its fragrance all winter. It does quite well inside- as long as it is watered regularly. If it misses a drink it will become very unhappy.
Many flowering houseplants have a subtle fragrance– Amaryllis have a peppery, lemon scent, and last for much longer in a vase when cut off from their rather unattractive bulbs. Cyclamens smell good too, particularly the small ones have a subtle peppery sent, like the amaryllis. To keep my small-flowered cyclamens going strong in the fall, I put them out on the north-facing front porch and water them periodically all summer. Once inside, they flower more profusely than they did for the florist.
For the best fragrance of all, potted lemons are a delight for us low-light states. I have my lemon tree in a south-facing window, and all winter long we are treated to the sweet lemon fragrance of its demure white flowers. Lemons are one of the few citrus that can take our low-light conditions, but the key with lemons is constant vigilance for pests– scale is always a problem for me.
Potted herbs like bay and rosemary, which can only be grown indoors during our long cold winters, are a treat whenever they are cut. These low maintenance herbs grow very well on a southern windowsill.
Another favorite, available at grocery stores across the country in mid-winter are primulas– the lemon colored ones have a bright, strong lemon scent, and look delightful on a windowsill with some royal purple african violets. Other primulas might be available elsewhere, and certainly in other colors, but a side-by-side smell test will reveal that the good–old bright yellow primula vulgaris has the strongest scent. That scent is not nearly as noticable outside, I noticed I had a blooming primula outside yesterday, and it hardly smelled at all.
Forced bulbs are often fragrant. Many folks grow paperwhites for their strong fragrance, but I prefer Inbal- a lightly scented variety that smells less like the catbox. A good variety of forced bulbs, especially freesias, will bloom all winter and emit their sweet honey fragrance.
There are so many scented flowers to choose from, try and give yourself a sweet treat and grow a few, they’ll provide a sweet smell all winter long.